Our Work

This Commission is concerned with how regional economies create poverty – wherever it is in England and whatever the economic cause.

We start from an understanding that regional inequalities trap people in poverty in all of England’s regions. The different regional perspectives on poverty all have truth to them, but each only offers a partial understanding. The so-called ‘north-south divide’ reflects long-term underinvestment that traps people in poverty outside of London and the south east. But London’s overheating economy traps people in poverty there too. And many of our rural and coastal economies are isolated, or create seasonal and low-paid work. All our regional economies therefore have places where poverty is highly concentrated.

Our regions aren’t islands: an overheating capital and underperformance in other parts of England are connected. The way England’s regional economies function and interact, traps people in poverty in all regions.

The focus of this Commission is on economic policies relating to regional or local economies – so not UK-wide tax, social security and labour market policies. Our interest is in economic interventions that can alleviate poverty, primarily by raising household incomes or reducing living costs in the foreseeable future.

The Commission will ask three main questions:

  • What are the economic and demographic causes of concentrations of poverty in places and how does this play out in different regions?
  • How do people – including those on low incomes themselves – understand the way poverty is distributed between places, how accurate are these perceptions, and how has this changed in recent years?
  • What can national and local policy do, and how can regions work together, to reduce high concentrations of poverty in all parts of the country and bridge divisions between places?

Consideration will be given to how these policies affect different places with high concentrations of poverty, including parts of London, major cities, post-industrial towns, rural areas and coastal communities. The Commission will also analyse how these affect different groups of people including individuals from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, women and men, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, younger and older workers.

Throughout, the Commission will involve people with lived experience at all levels of its work. This project is focused on England, but will seek to draw lessons from the devolved nations.

The Poverty and Regional Inequality Commission is supported by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, Trust for London, the City of London Corporation, and Dartmouth Street Trust.